Watching the Detective

I suspect I wasn’t born a detective. I suspect my occupation was cultivated in my youth. However, as with many of life’s mysteries, I’ll never know, will I?

As I went about my young life climbing and playing, racing the neighborhood, shooting unpopped popcorn through a peashooter at parked cars, things were happening around me. Things no one was talking about. Things I was blind and deaf to. I embodied innocence in a not so innocent world.

In my third grade year, the bomb exploded in my upper middle class home. Climbing from the rubble, I watched as my parents came and went in shifts. I learned about hospitals of the physical and psychological kind. I learned that asking questions might not get you answers, especially if you have no way of knowing which questions to ask.

So much was going on in my world that I didn’t even know how much I didn’t know, but eventually my subconscious caught on and planted the seed that if you want to know anything, you better pay attention. There are signs, my subconscious warned. Only the savvy and the attentive will know.

The Detective was born.

I imagine what I’m not hearing and what isn’t being said. I look over my shoulder, search for clues and signs and indications and hints. I take notes. Friends come to me, my skill at detection well known, and ask, “What do you think it means?” My powers of observation and analysis are well respected. I offer answers. I serve the people.

And I’m tired.

I’m tired of not trusting in what I don’t hear. I’m tired of imagining what is being said between the lines. I’m tired of waiting for the next bomb to drop, in believing that if I’m more vigilant in my detection I can get out of the wake of the explosion before I end up in the rubble again.

I used to see my story as one of survival, of making the best out of the bad, of using adversity to hone independence and create a pocket of powers. And all of that is true, but more is true as well.

Children should not be protected from all that is bad. Absence of information and explanation creates a lack of trust, for once the curtain is pulled aside and the protected learns the truth, he doesn’t know what to believe in the future.

If you want to protect your children from a lifetime of healing, let them heal in pieces from the beginning. Share pain in small doses. Share truth in age appropriate terms. This does not mean bleeding all over the child. A child can choose to drown saving a parent. Throw your child a life preserver first. But do not protect with lies. Do not mask reality with well-rehearsed smiles and fairy tales.

Unless you want to raise a detective. A suspicious, somewhat-paranoid detective. A detective who will blame himself for his lack of belonging and trust. A detective who will always be searching, for there is undoubtedly something to be found. There certainly was in this detective’s childhood, and while one can’t blame the budding detective for not unearthing clues at such a young age, the detective may always believe that the clues were sitting waiting to be discovered. He may not believe it in his head, but he may somewhere deep in his soul.

But take heart. It’s not so serious. The Detective has fun. The Detective figures out movies before the rest of the audience. The Detective seldom says, I never saw that coming.

The Detective even has enough savvy to eventually figure out what’s been nagging him for years. The Detective can turn his detective powers on himself. It’s the beauty of living. Everything moves and changes. The absolutes are the beginning, not the end.


Emily said...

I really liked this as I was always wanting to be Nancy Drew...however I don't think I ever developed the skill set. And I really think you are right about kids. May you find some respite from sleuthing.

QT said...

Mmmm. I am so torn by this post. There are some facts, when someone finally tells them to me, I am all "seriously?" like I am really shocked. Then there are times when I get a feeling in my gut and I know it is right and lo and behold it pans out.

Can you be a half-detective?

deezee said...


I would say, from a place of authority, half-detective very possible.

Anonymous said...

Ah, there's detective work that makes life better and detective work that grinds it to a halt and stunts all progress.

Knowing which situations to leave alone and which to dissect and analyze can be maddening, in every sense of the word.

Rachel said...

I understand what you mean when you say you are tired of imagining what is between the lines. When I have too many evenings on my own, I tend to do post mortems on coversations and inuendos and often with quite catastrophic results. Is it a woman think, to overanalyse everything to death?
Great post

Trouble said...

I'm a detective too. I became one when I was married. I learned to read behind the lines, see what wasn't being said, snoop and find.

I hate it.

I want to stop being that person. I just want to be.

Anonymous said...

I would think being a detective on yourself can be a dangerous thing. You're never going to fully solve that mystery.

Diz Rivera said...

Amen on the parenting part. It's such a painful part of parenting I find; to have to expose them to life's less-joyful truths. But it is necessary for them to be aware and alert and for us to help them sort out their feelings.